Lord and Master: How Dilip Vengsarkar conquered Lord’s with three tons
Written by Gaurav Bhatt
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Updated: April 29, 2020 12:13:14 am


Dilip Vengsarkar scored 103 in 1979, 157 in 1982, and 126* in 1986 at Lord’s. (Source: File Photo)

Oh, to stroll half a mile in Dilip Vengsarkar’s sneakers. Especially, the stretch from St. John’s Wood tube station to the time capsule that’s Lord’s cricket floor. His first go to was greater than 40 years in the past, however admirers, lugging their old-school photograph albums, nonetheless flock round when the one abroad batsman to attain three Test centuries there makes the stroll.

“I am always surprised whenever I am at Lord’s. The English fans know who’s who. They still believe in autographs and photographs. But they don’t disturb you. They wait for their moment to approach you,” says Vengsarkar. “When I first toured in 1979, all people had mentioned that you simply’ll be written about provided that you rating runs in England. And Lord’s, effectively, you learn a lot concerning the floor, hear a lot about it on the commentary that you simply wish to succeed there. More than two centuries previous, and the best way they care about their historical past and custom is unbelievable.”

“Now, simply making that stroll to the stadium, strolling on the greens there, you get goose pimples. It seems like yesterday, yaar.”

Win-win

Never had Vengsarkar been extra nervous on the venue than he was throughout his third England tour in 1986. The earlier two visits had yielded two etchings on the Lord’s Honours Board for Vengsarkar, who was batting at 85 when No. 11 Maninder Singh walked in. India had been 303/9 and had earned a first-innings lead of 9 runs, and Vengsarkar’s thoughts wavered to the summer time earlier than, when he was left stranded at 98 in Sri Lanka.

“That match, Maninder was playing well until he got bowled playing across. It was on my mind, a hundred per cent,” Vengsarkar laughs. “I just reminded him once and Maninder batted extremely well. I got the third hundred but more importantly, we got a good lead.”

The unbeaten 126 arrange India’s first win at Lord’s — “I just looked around and felt the happiness on every Indian’s face. They all drank and danced under the balcony, on the ground itself”.

Two weeks later at Headingley, 61 and an unbeaten 102 from Vengsarkar secured a sequence victory for India.

“I was on top of the Deloitte ratings for 21 months straight,” says Vengsarkar, who completed 1986, his most prolific 12 months, with 793 runs at a median of 132.16 with 4 centuries. “But these things were always a by-product. Records, centuries, all that will happen. Winning matches were always the most important.”

Cruelly although, Vengsarkar needed to witness Indian cricket’s greatest triumph from the sidelines of his favorite hang-out. In the heady footage of the 1983 World Cup win, Vengsarkar is relegated to 1 body, that of him shaking his head, clapping on the dressing room balcony as Mohinder Amarnath plucks a stump as memento.

He had already scored centuries at Lord’s in 1979 and 1982 (Vengsarkar is fast so as to add a fiery 96 in a tour recreation towards MCC) however an damage inflicted by a Malcolm Marshall snorter stored him out of the ultimate.

“I was injured in the middle of the tour, almost two weeks from the final. I was fit for the match but the Indian team was doing really well. And when the team is in good form and performing, the winning combination always stays. Of course, you feel bad missing out on an iconic game.”

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Summer of ’79

ranji trophy, ranji trophy news, Mumbai Ranji Team, Mumbai Ranji team win, Bombay vs Haryana Ranji, ranji trophy 2019, cricket news Dilip Vengsarkar completed 1986 with 793 runs at a median of 132.16 with 4 centuries. (Express Photo)

However, it was not ‘love at first sight’ between Vengsarkar and Lord’s.

After the preliminary pleasure got here the intimidating, lonely stroll from the pavilion to the centre, which very effectively may have been half a mile by itself. And as mortifying as a stroll to the college principal’s workplace. It begins from the big door within the corners of the dressing room, via the creaking corridors lined with pictures and member rooms, down the sectioned staircase, throughout the fabled, uncarpeted lengthy room that doubles as a museum with its work and paraphernalia, down the stone steps, between the throng of spectators and onto the hallowed inexperienced.

For his first Lord’s innings, a 12-ball duck, Vengsarkar made that to-and-fro a minimum of six instances.

“Rain interruptions, but you soon learn that’s no excuse in England. And at Lord’s, if you score a duck, it’s a long way back. So the second time I went in, I was muttering ‘I don’t want to get a pair at Lord’s. That will be a disaster’,” Vengsarkar remembers. “I didn’t want that against my name in the record books.”

He scored 103 within the second innings and, alongside with Gundappa Vishwanath (113), helped save the Test. He minimize, slashed, pulled, glanced, guided, punched. And he drove. And for a superb driver like Vengsarkar, slopes be damned.

“I never thought about that slope,” Vengsarkar says of the well-known peculiarity of Lord’s, a two-and-a-half metre drop that runs diagonally throughout the pitch. “In the later part of my England tours, when I played league cricket (unofficial games played across venues such as West Brom, Sunderland and Chester-le-Street), I came across many grounds with massive slopes. In England, they don’t level the grounds. Headingley too has a slope, it goes the other way, east-west. You could see Bob Willis running uphill.”

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“Players who went in with a positive frame of mind succeeded. At that level, it isn’t like an international bowler will only bring it back in because of the slope. They took it away and you had to adjust,” provides Vengsarkar. “Technically, it is very important in England to stay absolutely side on and play on the off-side. The bowling used to be middle and off to taking it away. If you opened up, you’re gone. You’ll square up, you will edge it to slip. Side on, you got a better view of the ball moving away. I loved to drive, but you had to be very careful of the movement.”

The bowlers had been menacing and the circumstances extra so. Everybody remembers the Bothams, Willises and Pringles however Vengsarkar swears by the miscellany of seamers that made the ball discuss in chilly English summers.

“Mike Hendrick, John Lever, Graham Dilley. These were all top county bowlers, and our England tours took place in very cold and gloomy conditions. Facing the pace you don’t mind, but the balls wobbled when the English bowlers bowled, you wouldn’t know which way it would go.”

Twin edges

Then there have been the misplaced causes at Lord’s. Vengsarkar singles out two innings when he was squarely within the zone earlier than premature dismissals stopped his cost.

First was the opening Test of the 1982 tour, the center piece of his Lord’s trifecta. Following on after the hosts had piled on 433, Vengsarkar scored 157 however says he may have carried on lots longer.

“I was on the way to score a double hundred, more than that,” remembers Vengsarkar. “We were shot out early in the first innings (128 all out), so we were trying to save the match. It’s all ifs and buts. It was a slow bouncer from (Bob) Willis, edged it and was caught at deep fine leg. That was an enjoyable inning. The wicket was good. Sunshine throughout the day, wicket became a beauty. That one delivery I played badly. Call it complacency, overconfidence.”

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Then there was the 1990 tour, Vengsarkar’s final, when the 34-year-old couldn’t make it 4 in 4. The guests had been at all times taking part in catch-up after Graham Gooch’s first-innings 333. Centuries from Ravi Shastri and Mohammad Azharuddin raised hopes of a fightback, however Vengsarkar was caught behind at 52.

“I remember I was stroking the ball really well. At 52, there was nobody on the leg side, and it was such a faint nick (against offie Eddie Hemmings). In India, you wouldn’t hear such edges and you could just stay. In cold England, you could hear such nicks from the pavilion. It was very obvious. I scored 35 in the second but we lost.”

In addition to being the one non-English centurion to make the honours board three instances — “It’s not like they do it aaram se, in a day or two. Immediately after your innings, your identify is there” — Vengsarkar had a tavern suite named after him by MCC in 2001, and six years later his portrait (alongside with these of Kapil Dev and Bishan Singh Bedi) went up exterior the visiting group dressing room.

Lord’s wasn’t probably the most profitable floor for Vengsarkar (4 centuries at Feroz Shah Kotla) neither England his favorite opposition (he scored six tons towards West Indies). Does he ever become bored with fielding questions concerning the Lord’s passages?

“Absolutely not,” Vengsarkar says. “You can win many Grand Slams. But people will always go through the list to see how many Wimbledons you’ve won.”

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